• 41°

Hood Theological commencement speaker encouraged graduates to be “ordinary”

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

The Rev. Dr. Lamont Foster was assistant principal at North Rowan High and principal at North Rowan Middle School and after retirement he decided to take a challenge — he enrolled in Hood Theological Seminary.

On Saturday morning he walked across the stage where he received his master of divinity from the seminary during its 14th Commencement Ceremony. Foster was one of 58 graduates who walked under the large tent on the Mona Lisa Wallace Plaza in front of the Aymer Center.

He is the pastor of Pleasant Hill AME Zion Church in Wadesboro. He enrolled after “making excuses” not to perfect his spiritual walk, Foster said.

He came into the seminary program with a doctorate, Foster said, but he put it all aside.

Foster said he hadn’t devoted the same amount of time to his spiritual walk as he’d done with obtaining his bachelor, masters and doctorate degrees.

“I decided to truly put God first,” he said.

“I learned how to think and feel from a scholarly, biblical perspective,” he said.

Foster loved the diversity of the student body and faculty, which include some of the top professors in the country, he said.

“The curriculum will stretch and challenge you. You have to be open to new things,” he said.

The road to the stage and a degree weren’t easy, Foster said, and there were times he wanted to quit.

“All of us have had times we wanted to quit,” he said of his fellow graduates, but they “stayed the course.”

He encouraged others who are “serious about the Christian faith” to attend seminary.

Attending seminary was a life-changing journey, one in which he’ll never be the same afterward, Foster said.

The Rev. Sarah June Card waited 60 years to see her daughter, Melody Troncale, receive her master of divinity degree.

“She is in her late 60s and I was in my late 60s when I wanted to be ordained,” Card said.

The two had a casual conversation about attending seminary school and Troncale being ordained.

“She said, ‘you know that’s not a bad idea,’ ” Card said.

“And she did it all while taking care of her mom and a son in high school, who graduated and moved to Spain,” she said.

As Troncale walked across the stage, Card whispered, “that’s my daughter.”

Troncale reached for her mother’s hand and the two embraced as she stepped off the stage and headed back to her seat.

“Whatever had to be done, she did it,” Card said.

She and her daughter are members of St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church in Pittsboro.

Tracy Love and her husband, Adam, decided to take this journey together. Both graduated summa cum laude and with masters in divinity.

The couple started in January 2014 with ministry being a second “career” for them, Tracy said.

The two prayed about their decision and “it made sense to do it together,” she said.

Tracy said she found the experience both challenging and inspiring. Tracy said they also loved the diversity throughout the programs and with its faculty.

Keynote speaker Teresa Elaine Snorton began with the line “I’ve got shoes, you’ve got a shoes, all of God’s children got shoes,” from the Negro Spiritual “Going to Shout All Over God’s Heaven.”

She used the song reference as a way to encourage graduates to not put on their shoes, but to take them off as well as to never become too important doing the “ordinary” task of ministry.

She said taking off shoes in many cultures is a sign of respect, a way to relax and provide relief of tired feet. But she told the graduates to take off their shoes “because God is here. He is worthy of our praise, worthy of our veneration and of our awe.”

“I want to remind you your task is to be ordinary, do ordinary things, make room for God to show up and do the extraordinary,” Snorton said.

The ministry in which the graduates will serve is a privilege, not an entitlement to serve, she said.

“When you take off your shoes you are vulnerable. God is calling for complete trust and surrender,” Snorton said.

As she ended her speech, Snorton, removed her shoes and placed them on the podium. Snorton spoke of her humble beginnings — an ordinary girl who now is the presiding bishop of the Fifth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. She is the 59th bishop and the first female bishop in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church since it was founded in 1870.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

Comments

Nation/World

Ohio’s million-dollar idea: Lottery prizes for vaccinations

Nation/World

GOP dumps defiant Trump critic Cheney from top House post

Nation/World

Israel steps up Gaza offensive, kills senior Hamas figures

Coronavirus

Fluctuating COVID-19 death number back to 302 in Rowan County

Crime

Habitual felon sentenced to at least 8 years in prison

Kannapolis

City of Kannapolis to have bike rodeo Saturday

Crime

Two more charged for operating illegal gambling businesses

Education

A.L. Brown celebrates seniors with signing day

Business

Rebounding, but not recovered: Rowan County tourism begins challenging path toward normalcy

High School

High school baseball: Padgett leads Mustangs; 100th win for West coach Graham

Coronavirus

RSS superintendent, Board of Health discuss strategies for increasing student vaccination rates

Education

East Spencer charter school files petition to contest charter revocation

Nation/World

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

News

Lawyers: Black man didn’t drive into deputies who shot him

Nation/World

Liz Cheney says Trump and GOP backers threaten democracy

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A